Novak Djokovic back in detention center in Australia

Novak Djokovic back in detention center in Australia

UPGRADE DAY

After the return to detention, the expulsion for Novak Djokovic? The world No.1 must again wait in a Melbourne detention center for his fate to be decided after the cancellation of his visa for the second time by the Australian government, which maintains that the player, not vaccinated against Covid- 19, constitutes a “health risk”. 

After the failure for the first time earlier this week of a deportation procedure targeting the Serbian tennis star, the Australian government made a new attempt. 

But Djokovic who never hidden his mistrust of the anti-Covid vaccine, intends to fight to the end against this decision and an interim hearing is scheduled for Sunday before a Federal Court.   

After enjoying a few days of freedom which he used to train for the Australian Open where he dreams of winning a record 21st Grand Slam title, “Djoko”, 34, was back on Saturday in the basic comfort detention center where he had already spent several days.

A convoy of vehicles, one of which was most likely carrying Djokovic, left the offices of his lawyers — where he spent part of Saturday under the surveillance of Border Police officers – heading towards the now world famous Park Hotel.

– “Health risk” –

In his conclusions filed on Saturday before the Court, the Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke argued that the presence of Djokovic in the country “is likely to represent a health risk for the Australian community.”

He says it encourages “anti-vaccination sentiment” and could deter Australians from getting their booster shots, as the Omicron variant continues to spread at high speed.

The presence in Australia could even “lead to an upsurge in civil unrest”, added the minister, who on Friday canceled Djokovic's visa for the second time under his discretionary power, citing “sanitary and public order reasons

Even if he described the risk that Djokovic himself infects Australians as “negligible”, the minister considered that his past “contempt” of health rules against Covid constitutes a bad example .

The minister “does not cite any evidence” in support of his arguments, retorted the player's lawyers.

Two days before the opening of the tournament, the participation of the Serb who must face, has a priori Monday, in the 1st round his compatriot Miomir Kekmanovic, seems more than ever improbable. 

This is the second time that Djokovic has been targeted by an expulsion procedure.

He had been blocked on his arrival in Australia on January 5 and placed in administrative detention for the first time. The player, who contracted Covid-19 in December, had hoped for an exemption to enter the country without being vaccinated, but the authorities did not accept this explanation.

The Australian government has suffered a humiliating setback on January 10 when a judge blocked Djokovic's deportation, reinstated his visa and ordered his immediate release. declaration of entry into Australia.

– “Incompetence” –

The player with 86 ATP titles, seen in Serbia and Spain in the two weeks before his arrival, contrary to what he declared in the immigration form upon his arrival , pleaded “human error”. 

Dreams of a 10th title in Melbourne are all the more distant as this visa cancellation, if confirmed by justice, implies that Djokovic will be banned from entering the country for three years, except in exceptional circumstances. /p>

This action-packed soap opera is set in a country whose people have endured some of the toughest anti-Covid restrictions in the world for nearly two years, and where elections are due by May. 

Hence a charged political context. Pressure has intensified around Conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accused of “incompetence” by the Labor opposition.

The Djokovic affair is also being followed assiduously in Serbia where “Nole” is considered a as a national hero. On Friday, President Aleksandar Vucic accused Australia of “mistreating” him.

The other players preparing for the Australian Open no longer hide their annoyance and weariness.

< p>“The Australian Open is much more important than any player” and it “will be a great Australian Open with or without him”, thus asserted the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, one of the three world tennis superstars alongside Djokovic and Swiss Roger Federer.

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